Osama bin Laden, clearly, never saw "Casablanca."
You know. The part where the stuffy Nazi, Major Strasser [right], [who later gets his come-uppance] is suggesting to expatriate American Rick Blaine that the Germans who have already occupied Paris may soon be in some other major cities.
Rick replies, as only Humphrey Bogart can, "Well, there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."
That's the bit of American philosophy we should remember when people are panicking over one or another terror assault on The Greatest City in the World.
Even the ones that succeed, don't succeed.
From a column I contributed to The Buffalo News Sunday Viewpoints section:
There is little personal distinction in claiming that, exactly three weeks -- minus two hours -- before the event, I was standing at the very spot where someone tried to blow up Times Square. ...
The night after my family visited Times Square, we dropped in on Lower Manhattan. That's where that other terrorist attack, the one that didn't fizzle, happened.
What is striking to this occasional visitor is how unterrorized the place feels.
Of course, Garrison Keillor did it better:
Saturday night, at the time the Nissan was discovered and cops started to evacuate the area, I was at a show on 43rd Street two blocks away, unaware of any threat, and I maintained unawareness for the next several hours, catching a taxi on Sixth Avenue and proceeding to a Chinese restaurant on 65th and packing away some giant prawns and fried wonton in the company of others. We ate freely and jabbered about all sorts of things, and nobody came running up to ask if we’d heard about the car bomb. People in Williston, North Dakota, probably got the news before I did. This often happens in the Communications Capital of America: Large events transpire two blocks away and you sit happily ingesting your Seven Joys of Tofu and reminiscing about your childhood in Minnesota. That’s what I love about the city, that feeling of being utterly out of touch, as if you were in the Australian outback.
And there were some other views:
- In Times Square, Deciding When to Suspend Fear - David Carr/The New York Times
Sticking to the plan is a very American response these days. It is said that if people retreat into fear, “the terrorists have won,” but it’s actually just practical. Life goes on in far more dangerous places, and so it will here. Even though at least one terrorist signaled that he believed that Times Square was a soft, ripe target, the place normalized in a matter of days. We were now using cognitive dissonance to keep fear in a corner, putting our fingers in our ears and humming a happy song against the cold fact that the threat of 9/11 never went away and appears to be on the move.
- The real danger in makeshift bombs - David Ignatius/The Washington Post
The Times Square bomb attempt is a snapshot of the future, say U.S. counterterrorism experts: It was a makeshift plot by a new generation of terrorists that was thwarted by a combination of high-tech surveillance and vigilant citizens. This is the world we will be living in for some years, and we can only hope that other Americans will be as sensible as New York hot dog vendors.
- They Don’t Report. You Don’t Have to Decide - Frank Rich/The New York Times
As we venerate the heroic street vendors who gave America its reality check last weekend, we should remember that they were the first to report what was happening in Times Square and that those covering and attending the White House Correspondents Dinner were the last.
- Lessons From Another 'Long War' - Peggy Noonan/The Wall Street Journal
But there is no air of panic; we knew we were a target, we have absorbed this information, factored it in, included it as a fact of our lives and concluded there's little we can do about it. "If you see something, say something" as we've all memorized from buses and train stations.
- Cheney's Wrong, Jacobs Was Right, and Cameras Do Work - Fred Kaplan/Slate
- Miranda and public safety - Charles Krauthammer/Washington Post/Buffalo News
- Heroes’ Welcome for Two Times Square Vendors - The New York Times
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
taggedCurrent Affairs | Film | Viewpoints